Pumping Iron, Eating Food, and Starving

My friend Aydin and I are currently trying out a new muscle-building program at the gym, invented by a guy called Bob Myhal.

It's an interesting program that appears to be working. Most interesting is that fact that last week, I was starving myself. This week, I'm unable to fit enough food into my body to meet the calorie requirements of the program. I'm perpetually full.

It's an interesting feeling. Not the least because although I feel completely and totally stuffed, for the first time in my life, I have a totally full stomach... yet feel still completely and utterly hungry.

I guess I need to eat richer foods... this was certainly an unexpected turn-up though. I guess I'm eating about 3,800 calories a day right now. I'm supposed to be somewhere up at 4,500 - I just can't do it though. It won't all fit in. I'll burst. I mean it, I'll just explode.

However, there is a flip side to all of this. My legs have always been strong. They're stronger than anything else in my body. Heck, on the leg press, the limiting factor is not my legs, but the design of the machine which (due to my short stature and narrow shoulders) puts more pressure on my back than it should - and I also find it difficult to lift the plate off the starting blocks with heavy weight on it.

The odd thing is, there's this machine called a Standing Calf Raise. It puts weight on your shoulders (which translates into pressure on your spine, but oh well...), and then you effectively stand on the ball of your foot, and raise up on your tiptoes, and down again. Or something like that. It (unsurprisingly) exercises your calves.

Now, I've always had strangely strong legs. But today, I just completely astounded myself. I did 10 reps on the Standing Calf Raise machine, two sets (as per the program). You're supposed to do these at the largest weight you can.

I could do them at 300lbs of weight on that machine, reasonably easily, full range of motion. That weight is the maximum it goes to. To get any higher weight, you need to get someone willing to sit on the machine while you use it.

Now, it did cause a little back pain to do this - not too much, but enough to warn me that I need to be really careful doing this. So in future, I'm going to go lighter and do two or three times the prescribed number of repetitions.

The weird thing? My legs look pretty normal. They're not weightlifter legs. They don't bulge in odd places.

I guess it's genetic or something. Either way, this is the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me. I've always been kind of weak in the past - never really had any muscle whatsoever (except in my aforementioned legs). I certainly never imagined that I'd max out a machine in the gym - and the fact that I've done so kind of freaks me out a bit.

Weird. Damn weird.

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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James Summerlin wrote on Monday, March 14, 2005:


I like your blog post entry about going to the gym. Like you, my lower body far exceeds my upper body in raw power. I can do 255lbs on leg extension and that is the most the machine will hold. In about two more weeks, I should be squating about 405lbs and I can already dead lift 405lbs.

I only wish I had the problems with calories that you have. As it stands now, I really need to lose about 25lbs.

James Summerlin

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